Cross-examination of the third witness in the sexual assault trial of Jian Ghomeshi began on Monday afternoon. She detailed how the former CBC radio host allegedly attacked her in the summer of 2003.
The complainant, a dancer and artist whose name is subject to a publication ban, was questioned by defence lawyer Marie Henein about what she disclosed to police in an interview on Friday.
Do you agree you were being deliberately misleading to police, Henein asked.
“Yes,” the witness responded.
Henein said in an interview with the police on Friday, the complainant disclosed that she had “messed around and gave him [Ghomeshi] a handjob” after the alleged assault took place.
The complainant said she never had intercourse with Ghomeshi, and that was why she told police she “never had sex” with Ghomeshi.
Henein also sought to refute the witnesses earlier suggestion that she had broken off communication with Ghomeshi following an argument after a party on King St. The defence lawyer said she had invited him to two parties after the alleged assault took place.
In an email from Feb. 4, 2004, the witness allegedly asked if Ghomeshi still wanted to have a drink sometime, and if he would plug an event for her.
The complainant said she was contacting him to help two people with their careers.
Henein asked in the early afternoon court session why the witness had not gone to the police for six weeks after the stories about Ghomeshi first broke.
Explaining why she never came forward before, she told police at the time that it was “hard to know what to do.”
The witness said she didn’t really feel like there was anything to press charges on.
Henein said the witness told the Toronto Star she was “attacked.” She says she was misquoted because she never used the word attacked.
The defence lawyer said the complainant cannot remember if Ghomeshi used one hand or two and suggested that she does not clearly remember what happened. The witness disagreed.
“I remember his hands around my neck. It’s hard to forget,” she said.
Henein moved on to discuss the witnesses friendship with another alleged victim, Lucy DeCoutere, who introduced her to a publicist. She said they exchanged about 5,000 messages between the time the story broke and Sept. 23, 2015.
Ghomeshi’s lawyer continued to raise questions about the amount of contact between the complainants.
The witness said if she did share details of what happened after she met with the Crown, she was not aware she wasn’t allowed to do so.
She agreed she had discussed with DeCoutere that they hoped Ghomeshi would get fat and bald.
“It’s time to sink this pr--k,” she wrote to DeCoutere.
While being questioned by the Crown earlier in proceedings, the complainant said she knew Ghomeshi in passing through the arts community and went to dinner with him on the Danforth after meeting him at a dance festival where she was performing.
On another night, after her performance was over, they went to a secluded area of the park, where they began kissing, she testified.
He was kissing her neck and she felt his teeth, she said.
“It all happened so fast, at that point I wasn’t trying to get away,” she said.
“All of a sudden I felt his hands on my shoulders and his teeth . . . and his hands were around my neck and he was squeezing.”
She said she had trouble breathing with his hands around her neck. Then, she said, he put his hand on her mouth “smothering” her.
“I got out of it and I got up. I don’t remember saying anything or and I was never asked how I got up.”
She told the Crown she never consented to being choked or having his hand on her mouth.
“I was never asked,” she said.
The complainant said she took a cab home after the park incident.
She testified that she only disclosed another romantic interaction with Ghomeshi — at her home on a night after the alleged incident in the park — to police on Friday after hearing about Lucy DeCoutere’s emails at the tail end of a news story on CBC Radio.
“I realized that this was going to come out . . . and I had to tell. I figured, at that point, it has to be everything or nothing.”
She said she didn’t tell police about that encounter earlier, because “it was embarrassing” and “I didn’t think it was relevant.”
She told the Crown that she went out with Ghomeshi again despite reservations because he was charming and she began to second-guess herself, thinking she might have misread the situation.
“I am notoriously known for given second chances, and third chances,” she said.
She said she felt belittled by Ghomeshi when, prior to them going home together, he told someone at the bar that “we are not seeing each other; we are just f---ing.”
But she still went home with him, she said, because there was a “Jekyll-and-Hyde” thing going on.
By this point, there were “warning bells” she said, but the final “bell” came at another party in Parkdale, when Ghomeshi told her that her best friend was manipulative, controlling and did not have her best interests at heart.
They left together in his car, but they had an argument about his comments, she said. Her last words to him before she got out of the car were: “You are f--ing crazy. Lose my number! Don’t ever call me again!”
She left for Vancouver the following day and was surprised to receive a phone call from Ghomeshi asking how her flight was. She says, at that point, whatever relationship they had was over and she could not believe he was calling again.
Over the years, she has had “cordial” interactions with Ghomeshi at Canadian arts events that come with being part of the community.
She was contacted by the Toronto Star after a Facebook posting about Ghomeshi following his firing by the CBC and the publishing of allegations that Ghomeshi had been physically violent towards three women and she spoke to the Star’s Kevin Donovan.
She came forward to police, she said, because she realized what happened to her was not an isolated incident and she “recognized a pattern . . . there was familiarity in some of the things I was hearing.”
She added that she didn’t report it to police at the time, because she “wanted it gone.”
She was also concerned about the implications of her reporting for her relationship with a family member involved in the arts community.
“It doesn’t take long for a girl to get a reputation for being hysterical,” she testified.
She also testified she is good friends with DeCoutere, another of the complainants in the case, but said that they did not discuss the allegations.
Her testimony began after the judge held a closed-door hearing this morning to deal with new evidence that came from the woman’s new statement to police on Friday.
The hearing was requested by Ghomeshi’s lawyer, who noted that the statement was not fully disclosed to the defence until Sunday.
Crown Michael Callaghan said there was no attempt to mislead the defence, adding that the Crown gave the defence a summary of the new information on Friday and disclosed all of it on Sunday.
Following the hearing, the Crown said they consented to an application by the defence to allow a “relevant” portion of the complainant’s sexual history admitted to be the subject of testimony during the trial.
The 48-year-old former CBC Radio star is charged with four counts of sexual assault, and one count of overcome resistance by choking. He has pleaded not guilty.
He acknowledged in 2014 that he engaged in rough sex acts, but said it was consensual.
— with files from Kevin Donovan and The Canadian Press